A dormant Congress is fuelling new opposition ambitions

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For the opposition events, 2021 introduced a combined basket of their combat in opposition to the dominance of the Modi-led BJP and NDA. However, for the principle opposition social gathering, the Congress, it was simply an prolonged part for grappling with its existential crises. But, 2021 additionally witnessed efforts from inside the opposition to problem the Congress‘ declare of being the perennial and pure pivot of anti-BJP politics.

If Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee clearly overshadowed the Gandhis because the ‘champion BJP slayer’ of the 12 months, retaining the Sonia-Rahul-Priyanka trio edgy, 2022 might present how this ‘Mother-Bachchas managed Congress’ vs ‘Didi’s personal Congress’ will fan out by tactical tie-ups and influence the bigger play involving the Congress and regional biggies on the anti-BJP turf.

Regardless of the BJP and NDA’s galloping dominance within the final two common elections, the ruling social gathering’s formidable experience has typically stumbled on the state polls. 2021 confirmed that pattern with the Trinamool, DMK, and LDF registering spectacular victories in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala whereas the BJP+ might style victory in Assam and Puducherry, primarily because of the Congress’ failure to combat and win.

The Modi-led BJP’s (post-2014 LS victory) ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ electoral war-cry had meant a resolve to show India saffron underneath a unified ideological command. Almost eight years on, the BJP’s ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ drive has confined the grand outdated social gathering’s rule to simply three states – Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh (excluding the Maharashtra and Jharkhand ruling coalitions by which the Congress is a junior accomplice). But, the BJP’s dream of wresting your complete nation stays a mission unaccomplished primarily because of the resistance by regional powers.

As in opposition to the 12 BJP-led/dominated state governments (UP, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Goa, Bihar and Haryana) there are one other 12 states dominated by anti-BJP/NDA events – of which, barring three of the Congress – the remainder are led by regional events, who combat the BJP and slice the Congress, such because the Trinamool in Bengal, AAP in Delhi, YSRCP in Telangana, BJD in Odisha, TRS in Telangana, DMK in Tamil Nadu, JMM-led authorities in Jharkhand and the Sena-NCP managed Maharashtra. Courtesy its massive brother allies in N-E and Puducherry, the BJP has its share within the authorities in one other 5 (N-E) states and a UT.

It on this backdrop of more and more combative fights within the states – BJP vs regional events vs Congress – that 2022 will host key battles in UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa, Manipur, HP, Gujarat and presumably J&Ok-Ladakh – when the second Modi authorities will get deeper into its second half amid the Congress going through a turf problem from opposition regional events.

Because the Congress stays a bit participant within the BJP vs SP battle for UP, the GoP must retain Punjab and wrest Uttarakhand and Goa to safeguard its place on the opposition turf. But, the Congress is being challenged in these states as a lot by the BJP as by regional rivals; the Trinamool (in Goa), AAP (in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand) and Captain Amarinder Singh’s social gathering (in Punjab). 2022 heralds a much bigger process for the Congress – to concurrently combat the BJP and resist the regional turf-poachers.

Caught between the satan and deep sea, the Congress management is accusing the Trinamool and AAP of attempting to “divide” the opposition votes and serving to the BJP however, the very fact stays that the identical Congress had jumped into opening a ‘third choice’ within the Trinamool vs BJP combat within the Bengal polls and AAP vs BJP within the Delhi polls – simply because the Priyanka Vadra-led UP Congress is attempting it once more vis a vis the SP vs BJP combat in UP. Electoral turf-poaching/growth bids cannot be a one-way lane.

In realpolitik, you reap what you sow. The final two years have introduced the Modi authorities its worst a number of disaster within the type of two Covid-19 waves (with a 3rd wave threatening to hit within the New Yr), the economic-unemployment-inflation disaster and the farmers’ agitation. But, the Gandhis, many leaders of the anti-BJP regional events really feel, did not show management acumen to supply an inspiring and unifying management or narrative to the Congress, and by extension, for the bigger opposition politics.

As an alternative, the Gandhis and the nominated CWC brass showcased the restrict of their preoccupation (and maybe ambition) to guard their very own ’employment ensures schemes’ within the management of a celebration in disarray. For one-and-a-half years now, the Congress management has refused to even tackle the basic useful reforms a bunch of social gathering change-seekers had sought of their letter to Sonia Gandhi at the same time as her son routinely questions PM Modi’s dedication to ‘democratic’ norms. For almost two-and-half years now, the twice-beaten (and resigned) Congress challenger Rahul Gandhi takes all choices within the GoP as a de facto social gathering chief and nonetheless poses as one involved concerning the ‘undermining’ of ‘institutional’ and ‘constitutional’ schemes (exterior the Congress)!

Barring one structured reconciliation assembly (with the promised extra such interactions by no means convened thereafter) between the representatives of the 23 Congress change-seekers and the AICC institution on the lawns of 10 Janpath in December finish, 2020, the Gandhis-led excessive command refused to have any critical engagement with the previous, by partly benefiting from the Covid-imposed numbness in politics and by unleashing a CWC loyalists’ ‘mob present’ at a gathering which the change-seekers sought to debate the in-house rot.

Given that every of the organisational and management points the social gathering change-seekers raised of their letter have been undisputable, many really feel, the management slightly thought that brazening them out was simpler than debating them. The style by which the AICC refused to sentence the evidently organized ‘hooliganism’ in entrance of the residence of Kapil Sibal, after he spoke out and reminded the management of the social gathering’s unaddressed drift, solely uncovered the management’s ‘cornered rat aggression’ syndrome. How lengthy the Gandhis will proceed to muffle inner questions or accommodate the difficulty, how the Congress will fare within the upcoming meeting polls, the equity of the promised organisations polls, together with to the Congress president’s and CWC posts, and the way imaginatively Mamata Banerjee (and a few others) throw wider “secular crossover” affords – all will influence the simmering rift inside the Congress. Ghulam Nabi Azad’s pan J&Ok floor mobilisation is already retaining the political gallery carefully watching.

The final half of 2021 additionally showcased Priyanka Vadra rising as the one AICC common secretary with powers to intervene with the social gathering affairs past her designated state (UP), be it in Punjab, Rajasthan or Uttarakhand (the record could enhance in 2022). The passing 12 months additionally witnessed Sonia Gandhi springing a singular (critics say ‘brazen’) act, by declaring herself in a single day as “a full-time and hands-on Congress president” after having been made an “interim Congress president” by the CWC in August 2019. The primary nagging New Yr’s fear for the Gandhi household loyalists seems to be whether or not a 3rd Covid wave will spoil the plan for Rahul’s return as social gathering chief by August.

It’s this ‘Vikram Aur Betal’-like, ‘Gandhis-Vadra Aur CWC’ association amid the unprecedented decline of the Congress that’s emboldening profitable regional events’ leaders to problem the Congress and Gandhis’ proper to be the anti-BJP pivot. Although the Congress counters it with the theoretical argument that the social gathering “instantly fights the BJP” in about 250 LS seats, and due to this fact, no anti-BJP mobilisation could be attainable with out the GoP, the sensible actuality of the 2019 LS polls confirmed Congress successful simply six seats of the 250 ‘direct fights in opposition to BJP’ (1/80 in UP, 1/40 in Bihar, 1/28 of MP, 0/26 in Gujarat, 0/25 in Rajasthan, 1/14 in Jharkhand, 2/11 in Chhattisgarh, 0/10 in Haryana and 0/7 in Delhi, 0/5 in Uttarakhand and 0/four in HP). Congress did worse in 2014.

This spectacle of the Congress offering electoral fodder for the BJP march is emboldening many profitable and bold leaders of regional events – with Banerjee within the forefront and a few others, together with a couple of Congress allies, tactically assessing the timing to say themselves. They really feel that to be able to make the combat in opposition to BJP simpler, a confederation of anti-BJP regional events, with potential to rope in additional, ought to collectively take up the lead in opposition to the BJP and NDA by making the failing-to-revive/be taught Congress play the supporting position.

If the seed of this tactical considering and ambition was sowed in 2021, the political and electoral occasions of 2022 will present how the Congress and its formidable turf-challengers will address this rising plot inside the opposition, and its in-built conflicts, as their occupational hazard to refresh the methods to combat the BJP and the Modi authorities – by projecting a reputable, unifying various management face and agenda – features urgency within the countdown to the 2024 battle.



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